Chapter 1. Towing Equipment of California Vehicle Code >> Division 13. >> Chapter 1.
Unless specified, this chapter does not apply to tow trucks
or to the drawbar or other connection between a motor vehicle and a
pole or pipe dolly or logging dolly or to any lawful trailer used as
a pole or pipe dolly.
The upper and lower halves of every fifth wheel connecting
device on any semitrailer and truck-tractor or auxiliary dolly shall
be securely affixed to the vehicles to prevent shifting of the device
on the vehicle to which it is attached.
Every fifth wheel mechanism, including adapters, shall be
equipped with a locking device which will not permit the upper and
lower halves to be separated without the operation of a positive
manual release. The manual release shall be designed, installed, and
maintained so that it cannot be accidentally operated. Automatic
locking devices on fifth wheels designed and constructed to be
readily separable are required on any vehicle first required to be
registered in this state after January 1, 1954.
(a) Every hitch or coupling device used as a means of
attaching the towed and towing vehicles shall be properly and
securely mounted and be structurally adequate for the weight drawn.
The mounting of the hitch or coupling device on the towing and towed
vehicle shall include sufficient reinforcement or bracing of the
frame to provide sufficient strength and rigidity to prevent undue
distortion of the frame.
(b) The drawbar, tongue, or other connection between the towing
and towed vehicles shall be securely attached and structurally
adequate for the weight drawn.
(c) The raised end of any motor vehicle being transported by
another motor vehicle using a tow dolly shall be secured to the tow
dolly by two separate chains, cables, or equivalent devices adequate
to prevent shifting or separation of the towed vehicle and the tow
(a) (1) Except as required under paragraph (2), a towed
vehicle shall be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of a safety
chain, cable, or equivalent device in addition to the regular
drawbar, tongue, or other connection.
(2) A vehicle towed by a tow truck shall be coupled to the tow
truck by means of at least two safety chains in addition to the
primary restraining system. The safety chains shall be securely
affixed to the truck frame, bed, or towing equipment, independent of
the towing sling, wheel lift, or under-reach towing equipment.
(3) A vehicle transported on a slide back carrier tow truck or on
a trailer shall be secured by at least four tiedown chains, straps,
or an equivalent device, independent of the winch or loading cable.
This subdivision does not apply to vehicle bodies that are being
transported in compliance with Sections 393.100 to 393.136,
inclusive, of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(b) All safety connections and attachments shall be of sufficient
strength to control the towed vehicle in the event of failure of the
regular hitch, coupling device, drawbar, tongue, or other connection.
All safety connections and attachments also shall have a positive
means of ensuring that the safety connection or attachment does not
become dislodged while in transit.
(c) No more slack may be left in a safety chain, cable, or
equivalent device than is necessary to permit proper turning. When a
drawbar is used as the towing connection, the safety chain, cable, or
equivalent device shall be connected to the towed and towing vehicle
and to the drawbar so as to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the
ground if the drawbar fails.
(d) Subdivision (a) does not apply to a semitrailer having a
connecting device composed of a fifth wheel and kingpin assembly, and
does not apply to a towed motor vehicle when steered by a person who
holds a license for the type of vehicle being towed.
(e) For purposes of this section, a "tow truck" includes both of
(1) A repossessor's tow vehicle, as defined in subdivision (b) of
(2) An automobile dismantler's tow vehicle, as defined in
subdivision (c) of Section 615.
(f) A vehicle towed by a repossessor's tow vehicle, as defined in
subdivision (b) of Section 615, is exempt from the multisafety chain
requirement of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) so long as the
vehicle is not towed more than one mile on a public highway and is
secured by one safety chain.
No recreational vehicle, as described in Section 18010.5
of the Health and Safety Code, designed to be towed, shall be
manufactured for sale in this state, sold, offered for sale, leased,
or rented unless it is equipped with a safety connection in
compliance with Section 29004 with breaking strength which equals or
exceeds the gross weight of the towed vehicle. The retail seller,
renter, or lessor shall supply instructions to the purchaser, renter,
or lessee of such recreational vehicle on proper methods of making
the connection between the towed and towing vehicles. Nothing in this
section shall, however, require a lessor of a recreational vehicle
to supply to the lessee of such vehicle the required instructions if
such vehicle is sold to the lessor by a third party and such third
party or the agent of the third party delivers possession of the
vehicle to the lessee. In such case, such third party shall supply to
the lessee the required instructions.
When one vehicle is towing another, the drawbar or other
connection shall not exceed 15 feet.
(a) No person shall operate a vehicle towing another motor
vehicle upon a freeway unless the towing vehicle is coupled to the
towed vehicle by a rigid structure attached securely to both vehicles
by nonrigid means.
(b) The requirements of subdivision (a) are not applicable to a
vehicle towing a motor vehicle which has been disabled and is being
towed from the point of disablement to the nearest and most
accessible exit from the freeway.
The requirements of Section 29004 shall not apply to
vehicles engaged in driveaway-towaway operations if all the following
conditions are met:
(a) The towed vehicle has one end supported by the towing vehicle.
(b) The towed vehicle is secured to the towing vehicle by a device
designed and constructed as to be readily demountable and to perform
the functions of a fifth-wheel-type connection.
(c) The fifth-wheel-type connection device is securely affixed to
the vehicles to prevent shifting of the device on the vehicles to
which it is attached.
(d) The fifth-wheel-type connection device provides a means of
variation of inclination between the towing and towed vehicle due to
vertical curvatures of the highway. Such means shall not depend upon
either the looseness or deformation of the connection or the vehicles
to provide for such variation.
(e) No more than three saddle-mounts may be used in any
(f) No more than one tow-bar or ball-and-socket type coupling
device may be used in any combination.
(g) Driveaway-towaway combinations shall comply with all
provisions specified in Section 393.71 of Title 49 of the Code of
Sections 29004 and 29005 shall not apply to trailers or
dollies used to support booms attached to truck cranes if the
following conditions are met:
(a) The trailer or dolly is connected to the boom by a pin,
coupling device, or fifth wheel assembly.
(b) The trailer is secured to the boom with a chain, cable, or
equivalent device of sufficient strength to control the trailer or
dolly in case of failure of the connection consisting of a pin,
coupling device, or fifth wheel assembly.
The requirements of Section 29004 do not apply to a dolly
used to support a portion of special construction equipment, as
defined in Section 565, which, due to its size or weight is being
operated under the authority of a permit issued by the Department of
Transportation, if the dolly is secured to the construction
equipment, and the construction equipment is secured to the towing
vehicle, by chain, cable, or equivalent devices of sufficient
strength to control the construction equipment and dolly.